On Black Saturday night in Ylivieska, after about three and half hours of intense flames and firefighting, a blaze started by a suspected arsonist, a local man in his 30s, there was nothing much but ashes left on the remains of the wooden Ylivieska Church, which had united the citizens of the small Northern Ostrobothnian community since 1786.
On the remains of the church around midnight, Bishop Samuel Salmi held the scheduled Easter mass under the eyes of dozens, as he was supposed to inside the church.
The rescue department received an alarm of the church fire at 19:34 and arrived at the scene shortly thereafter. They had trouble accessing the site because dozens of cars were parked at the nearby roads as the residents wanted to witness, film and photograph the destruction.
The church had a fire extinction system but it failed to function, apparently because of the explosion-like spreading of the fire.
There were no people inside the church.
The police quickly apprehended the suspect within a few hundred meters of the church.
The police are suspecting that the man used inflammables while starting the fire.
The man in police custody has admitted the arson but the motive remains unclear. However, according to the spokesperson of Ylivieska parish, Jussi Leppälä, the church had received threats via Twitter, which were related to the arson.
CHURCHES DESTROYED BY ARSONS IN FINLAND IN THE 21ST CENTURY
On May 29 2006, the Porvoo Cathedral was burnt after an eighteen-year-old man during a night of drinking started the fire with a roll of paper, which he placed in one of the drainpipes. The fire spread quickly to the shingle roof. The church, built in the 15th century, was badly damaged and a risk for conflagration in the historical Old Town was large. The man was sentenced to imprisonment for six years and six months. The court ordered the man to pay damages for over four million euros.
On October 11 and 15 2006, a 25-year-old man started a fire at the Kingdom Hall of the Jehova’s Witnesses in Vantaa and four days later at Kaivoksela church in Vantaa. Both churches suffered significant damages. In court, the man claimed insanity and he said he was “hearing voices.” The court ordered the man to mental asylum.
On 5 January 2008, two 18-year-old men burned The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a Mormon church, in Tampere. The boys said that they only intended to burn the garbage bin next to the church. However, the fire spread to the building and burned it down. The young men were sentenced to probation and the church didn’t claim damages but hoped that the men would join the rebuilding of the church.